COVID-19 has led to a surge of new startups around the world. From the United States and the UK to Japan and Taiwan, the number of startups has notably increased following the pandemic, as economic structures have been reshuffled.
According to the Global Competitiveness Report released by World Economic Forum in 2018 and 2019, in terms of innovation capability, Taiwan ranked the highest in Asia-Pacific, and came only behind Germany, the US and Switzerland in global ranking. Against this backdrop, Taiwan’s National Development Council, the country’s main coordinator of industrial policies, has initiated the “Startup Island Taiwan” brand to accelerate Taiwan’s transition into an attractive global innovation hub.
Crucial to the Startup Island Taiwan brand is the “Next Big” project under which nine Taiwanese companies have been selected by the National Development Council, in conjunction with Taiwan’s industry leaders, to spearhead the overseas expansion of Taiwanese startups.
Gogoro, a leading e-scooter company that has just announced its IPO on NASDAQ, is among the nine startups identified, and it is also one of Taiwan’s unicorns – startups with valuations above $1 billion. Apart from Gogoro, there are also Coolbitx, Kdan Mobile, 91APP, Greenvines, iKala, KKday, Pinkoi and 17Live.
At 2021 CONNECT (Link in Chinese), a leading Taiwanese tech forum co-organized by TechTaiwan with Fusionmedium as the publisher, three of these startups, Kdan Mobile, Coolbitx, and KKday, shared their experiences on how the pandemic transformed their businesses.
Founded in 2014, KKday has grown to be Asia’s largest in-depth travel e-commerce platform. When the pandemic came, it was the first in line to be severely impacted, much like their colleagues in the tourism industry. According to Yuki Huang, KKday’s Chief Marketing Officer, quick and decisive decisions were key to the company’s success in tackling the pandemic, especially as it diverted its focus away from tourism, concentrating on the stay-at-home economy instead. In Q1 2021, KKday already regained 70% of its sales performance before the pandemic.